Category Archive: 5) Global Macro

How Empires Fall: Moral Decay

There is a name for this institutionalized, commoditized fraud: moral decay. Moral decay is an interesting phenomenon: we spot it easily in our partisan-politics opponents and BAU (business as usual) government/private-sector dealings (are those $3,000 Pentagon hammers now $5,000 each or $10,000 each? It's hard to keep current...), and we're suitably indignant when non-partisan corruption is discovered in supposed meritocracies such as the college...

Read More »

America’s Forced Financial Flight: Fleeing Unaffordable and Dysfunctional Cities

The forced flight from unaffordable and dysfunctional urban regions is as yet a trickle, but watch what happens when a recession causes widespread layoffs in high-wage sectors. For hundreds of years, rural poverty has driven people to urban areas: cities offer paying work and abundant opportunities to get ahead, and these financial incentives have transformed the human populace from largely rural to largely urban in the developed world.

Read More »

China: Q1 growth beats expectations

The Chinese economy grew at a faster rate than expected in the first quarter as policy stimulus effects kick in.The National Bureau of Statistics of China published Q1 GDP figures along with some key economic indicators for March. The data generally surprised on the upside. While we had previously flagged the upside risk to our earlier GDP forecast following the rebound in PMIs and strong credit numbers, the latest data releases still surprised to...

Read More »

Business cycle could define Trump’s re-election chances

President Trump’s focus on getting re-elected in November 2020 may have implications for his economic policy choices.As we move closer to the 2020 presidential election, Trump has been blatantly leaning on the Federal Reserve to be more accommodative and has been trying to appoint nominees who share his preference for loose monetary policy to the Fed board.

Read More »

China’s Blowout IP, Frugal Stimulus, and Sinking Capex

It had been 55 months, nearly five years since China’s vast and troubled industrial sector had seen growth better than 8%. Not since the first sparks of the rising dollar, Euro$ #3’s worst, had Industrial Production been better than that mark. What used to be a floor had seemingly become an unbreakable ceiling over this past half a decade. According to Chinese estimates, IP in March 2019 was 8.5% more than it was in March 2018. That was far more...

Read More »

The Next Financial Crisis Won’t Be Caused by Fraud: This Time Will Be Different

Financial crises come in two flavors: fraud and credit-valuation over-reach.Fraud-based financial crises may differ in particulars, but they share many traits: perverse incentives are institutionalized; the perverse incentives reward figuring out how to evade oversight via fraud, embezzlement, masking risk, etc. which are soon commoditized; regulations are gutted by insider-funded lobbying; regulators fail to do their job in hopes of getting...

Read More »

Green Shoot or Domestic Stall?

According to revised figures, things were really looking up for US industry. For the month of April 2018, the Federal Reserve’s Diffusion Index (3-month) for Industrial Production hit 68.2. Like a lot of other sentiment indicators, this was the highest in so long it had to be something. For this particular index, it hadn’t seen better than 68 since way back in March 2010, back when the economy looked briefly like it might actually recover.

Read More »

Coloring One Green Shoot

China’s Passenger Car Association reported last week that retail sales of various vehicles totaled 1.78 million units in March 2019. The total was 12% less than the number of automobiles sold in March 2018. This matches the government’s data, both sets very clear as to when Chinese economic struggles accelerated: May 2018.

Read More »

No Fix for Recession: Without a Financial Crisis, There’s No Central Bank Policy Fix

There are no extreme "fixes" to secular declines in sales, profits, employment, tax revenues and asset prices. The saying "never let a crisis go to waste" embodies several truths worth pondering as the stock market nears new highs. One truth is that extreme policies that would raise objections in typical times can be swept into law in the "we have to do something" panic of a crisis.

Read More »

Assange and the Unforgivable Sin of Disemboweling Official Narratives

There is really only one unforgivable sin in the political realm, and that's destroying the official narrative by revealing the facts of the matter. This is why whistleblowers who make public the secret machinery of the elaborately artful lies underpinning all official narratives are hounded to the ends of the Earth.

Read More »

Blind Faith vs. the Bottom Line

There is more than a little "let them eat brioche" in the blind faith that the masses' patience for pillage is infinite. We've reached an interesting moment in history where we each have a simple choice: we either go with blind faith or we go with the bottom line, i.e. the facts of the matter. So far, 2019 is the year of Blind Faith, as the charts below illustrate: the bottom line no longer matters.

Read More »

Monthly Macro Chart Review – April 2019 (VIDEO)

Alhambra CEO Joe Calhoun discusses the charts from the past month and what they indicate.

Read More »

Why 2011

The eurodollar era saw not one but two credit bubbles. The first has been studied to death, though almost always getting it wrong. The Great Financial Crisis has been laid at the doorstep of subprime, a bunch of greedy Wall Street bankers insufficiently regulated to have not known any better. That was just a symptom of the first. The housing bubble itself was more than housing.

Read More »

Here’s What It’s Like To Be a Bear in a Rigged Market

Central bankers and media handlers must be laughing at how easy it is to slaughter the Bears and doubters with another fake-news round of trade-deal rumors and another Fed parrot being prompted to repeat some dovish mumbo-jumbo. It's not just tough being a Bear in a market rigged by trade deal rumors, Federal Reserve dovishness, a tsunami of Chinese liquidity and $270 billion in stock buy-backs in the first quarter--it's impossible. 

Read More »

Trade Deal Follies: The U.S. Has Embraced the World’s Worst Negotiating Tactics

The world's worst negotiating strategy is to make a crazy tulip-bubble stock market rally dependent on a trade deal that harms the interests of the U.S. The world's worst negotiating tactics, the equivalent of handing the other side a loaded gun while waving a squirt gun around, are: 1. Declare a de facto political deadline for a deal. Constantly tweet that a deal is imminent. 

Read More »

Monthly Macro Chart Review: April 2019

The economic data reported over the last month managed to confirm both that the economy is slowing and that there seems little reason to fear recession at this point. The slowdown is mostly a manufacturing affair – and some of that is actually a fracking slowdown – but consumption has also slowed.

Read More »

China PMIs jump in March

Industrial gauges rebound on seansonality as well as policy easing.Chinese PMI readings moved back into expansion territory in March. The official Chinese manufacturing PMI rose to 50.5, up from 49.2 in February, and beating the Bloomberg consensus of 49.6, while the Caixin manufacturing PMI came in at 50.8, also up from 49.9 in February and beating the consensus expectation of 50.0.

Read More »

External Demand, Global Means Global

The Reserve Bank of India (RBI) cut its benchmark money rate for the second straight meeting. Reducing its repo rate by 25 bps, down to 6%, the central bank once gripped by political turmoil has certainly shifted gears. Former Governor Urjit Patel was essentially removed (he resigned) in December after feuding with the federal government over his perceived hawkish stance.

Read More »

The Japanification of the World

Zombification / Japanification is not success; it is only the last desperate defense of a failing, brittle status quo by doing more of what's failed. A recent theme in the financial media is the Japanification of Europe. Japanification refers to a set of economic and financial conditions that have come to characterize Japan's economy over the past 28 years: persistent stagnation and deflation, a low-growth and low-inflation economy, very loose...

Read More »

Are the Rise of Social Media and the Decline of Social Mobility Related?

Social media offers hope of achieving higher online social status without having to succeed financially in a winner-take-most economy. I've often addressed the decline of social mobility and the addictive nature of social media, and recently I've entertained the crazy notion that the two dynamics are related. Why Is Social Media So Toxic?

Read More »